Friday, February 17, 2017

A Lesson from Impatient Wife, Soft Husband and Proud Servant (Genesis 16:1-6)

Sarai, Abram’s wife, hadn’t yet produced a child. She had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, ‘God has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her.’ Abram agreed to do what Sarai said. So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took her Egyptian maid Hagar and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. Abram had been living ten years in Canaan when this took place. He slept with Hagar and she got pregnant. When Hagar learned she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress.

Sarai told Abram, ‘It’s all your fault that I’m suffering this abuse. I put my maid in bed with you and the minute she knows she’s pregnant, she treats me like I’m nothing. May God decide which of us is right.’ ‘You decide,’ said Abram. ‘Your maid is your business.’ Sarai was abusive to Hagar and Hagar ran away
(Genesis 16:1-6, The Message)

This is both encouraging and troubling: Abram’s life of faith was up and down like roller coaster. Encouraging because mine is like that too; and troubling because his doubtful- attitude is like mine too. Huh. In Genesis 15 we saw Abram believing God’s big-scale promise to make him a great nation. But in the next chapter we see him taking matters into his hands again.

Knowing Sarai couldn’t possibly bear children at her old age, she invited Abram to sleep with her maid Hagar in hope that she would bear a child (on behalf of her since Hagar was her bondage-servant) who would be the beginning of Abram’s great nation. At least start with one child. The promise, after all, said that Abram would become the father of great nation – it didn’t specify that the children he fathered had to be legitimate. Hello!

So Abram slept with the servant woman – clearly put: having sex – and she got pregnant. Soon Sarai began to realize what a mistake she had made. Hagar the Egyptian “looked down on her mistress.” She became proud, and probably felt loved by Abraham because she bore his child. This is a better drama than TV3 Malay drama. So Sarai could no longer stand the sight of Hagar. In her eagerness to help God keep His promise and in her unwillingness to wait for God’s timing and somewhat became queen control, Sarah traded in her dignity, and Abram (sadly) had let her. It was a tragedy, disastrous. Abram became soft. Hagar became proud. Sarai became abusive.

Wait. That’s what I learned from this story. It’s hard, but wait for God is the best thing to do. On waiting Charles H. Spurgeon writes, “If the Lord Jehovah makes us wait, let us do so with our whole hearts; for blessed are all they that wait for Him. He is worth waiting for. The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord's people have always been a waiting people.”

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